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My 6-year old kid uses the family iMac for his Kodu-projects, which require Windows. He wants the real deal with Boot Camp and won't accept any virtualization :)

The problem: I want the OS X-disk to be the startup disk, of course. He wants a convenient way to restart the computer in Windows-mode (easier than pressing the Command-key at startup). There are some Apple-scripts and applications out there (like BootChamp), but they all ask you to enter the admin password. Despite (or because) he's quite computer savvy, I'd rather not give it to him at this point.

What options do I have?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

BootChamp requires you to input the administrator password at its first use, but after that it allows you to restart without asking you for the password again. Unless you child is tech-savvy enough to get into Keychain, I think BootChamp may be exactly what you're looking for. It's also very easy on system resources.

After installation, you could reboot into Windows yourself, giving BootChamp future permission by inputting your admin password. From then on he'll be able to change OSs without having admin access.

I have had BootChamp crash a couple of times, usually when I plug in a USB device or remove one without using OS X's remove function. I've been running it for several months with only five or so instances, so it's pretty rare, but something to consider.


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That what exactly what I was looking for! Works flawlessly. Thanks! –  Fredrik Eder Dec 3 '12 at 19:47

If you don't mind doing a bit of shell scripting, and you've found a script you can run from the Terminal that will switch to windows, you can create a script containing that command (and maybe a reboot command following it). Let's call it winreboot.sh for sake of argument. Then change the owner of that script to root, mark it as executable and put it in a useful location (such as /usr/local/bin/). If you run it like so:

sudo /usr/local/bin/winreboot.sh

It will ask you for the admin password, and then should do its thing, as the script then runs as root. However, sudo maintains a list of rules on which users are allowed to run what commands using sudo, and whether or not a password is required. This ruleset is stored in /etc/sudoers - unfortunately the syntax is very confusing, which is why you're not supposed to edit the file directly, but should use

sudo visudo

instead, which checks your syntax on saving. Note that this uses vim for editing, which you might want to read up on before running it - it can be very confusing if you're not used to it. (to quit it without saving, press <ESC> and type :q! followed by the <ENTER> key) If you can't get on with vim, edit a copy of sudoers with your favourite editor and check the syntax with visudo -f /path/to/sudoers-copy. If it's OK, copy it back over the original.

Getting back to the point, the rule you want to add to sudoers is that you want users in the admin group to be able to run your script as root without a password. That looks like this:

%admin  localhost=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /usr/local/bin/winreboot.sh

Add it as the last line of sudoers. If you now try to run your script with sudo (must do so with absolute path), it will NOT ask for a password and just run it instead. Wrap the sudo command in another shell script, link to it from the desktop or wherever, and your 6-year-old should be able to switch to Windows any time.

Hope that helps, let me know if anything is unclear.

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This will likely give me exactly the solution I'm looking for. I'll try it and report back. Thanks! –  Fredrik Eder Aug 23 '12 at 8:11

Install rEFit?

It will give you a graphical boot loader so you can simply choose OSX, Windows, or some utilities at boot.

It's easy to remove if you don't like it, simply delete the rEFit folder from the root of the OSX partition.

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Thanks! I'll give it a go. This might actually be the only way to circumvent the admin-password "issue". It will add an extra step to system startup but that's acceptable. –  Fredrik Eder Aug 23 '12 at 8:02
I just learned from @pmjordan post that there is a way to skip the password entering. If it does not work out, rEFit might be the closest I'll get. –  Fredrik Eder Aug 23 '12 at 8:16

rEFIt is no good if you have a wireless keyboard and mouse as it won't recognize them.

It's a pain in the backside for our meeting-room mac minis. or rEFIt needs to be able to use wireless keyboard and mouse.

BootChamp is the way to go IF you trust your keychain security.

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